Boxing

James Tennyson intends to rock Copperbox in British title fight

James Tennyson faces Ryan Walsh for the British featherweight title at London's Copperbox Arena on Saturday night
Picture by Hugh Russell
Andy Watters

SATURDAY night’s fight is the biggest of James Tennyson’s career and he intends to rock London’s Copperbox.

The Belfast featherweight faces Ryan Walsh for the British title. Walsh is the defending champion, he has a 20-1-1 record, he is seven years Tennyson’s senior, but he is the underdog and Tennyson is confident his time has come.

“The bookies have me favourite on the odds, but I’m taking no notice of that at all,” says Tennyson.

“Ryan is the champion and he’s a good fighter, so I’m not going to take anything for granted. I’ve left no stone unturned and I’ve got everything done - I just need to get in there and get the job done. I don’t think he is a big hitter, but he has been about and he has plenty of fights and experience under his belt. But I feel it’s my time.”

Sitting on the ring apron at the Belfast Kronk Gym in the New Lodge, Tennyson looks fit and relaxed as he counts down the minutes to the fight: “It’s all good, I’m ticking over, keeping the weight down,” he says with a smile.

“I’m sitting comfortable here, everything’s went perfect. It’s a massive fight, a massive occasion and I’ve got a decent crowd coming over with me as well. The Billy Joe Saunders [WBO middleweight champ Saunders was scheduled to headline the bill] fight being off is a good chance for me to steal the show and it’s a good show, there’s some good fights lined up on the night. I’m buzzing with confidence, to be honest. I had a great camp, I’ve had top quality sparring and I believe I’m going to win the title.”

His record is 16-1, but his journey to this stage hasn’t been without setbacks. The one defeat came in his ninth fight on a Carl Frampton undercard at the Odyssey Arena.

Tennyson had seven KO wins on his card and another was expected, but he was caught cold by unheard of Pavel Senkovs and left in a crumpled heap in a neutral corner.

“That made me the fighter I am today. It pushed me on and made me the fighter I am, physically and mentally. It’s got me here,” he said.

“At the start, I was gutted, but it drove me on - I wanted to avenge the defeat and I would have liked a rematch, although it never came about. It didn’t push me back, it made me the fighter I am. If I set my mind to something, I have to do it.”

Tennyson first pulled on a pair of gloves at Poleglass ABC as a seven-year-old before making the switch across the city to the Kronk and from the amateur to the paid ranks.

“The life [of a boxer] is only as tough as you make it,” he said.

“If you enjoy it, then it doesn’t come across as tough. It is hard, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy what I’m doing and I can’t complain. I don’t know what I’d have done if I hadn’t boxed, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything other than boxing.”

He finds it difficult to picture the Copperbox on Saturday night either. The people, the lights, the noise: “I’m not quite sure what it will be like,” he said.

“I know there’s going to be big crowds there. There’s going to be the lights and cameras and that’s what I’m looking forward to. All that will make it better for me, the whole venue, the atmosphere. It’s the biggest fight of my career.”

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